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  • As TikTok grows in popularity among influencer marketers, creators who have smaller followings are looking for opportunities to earn revenue from the app. 
  • This week, the creator marketplace Heartbeat announced that it’s accepting TikTok creators into its network of hundreds of thousands of lower-follower-count influencers.
  • The company has previously connected brands like Dunkin, Bose, and Kettle Foods with its influencers to run sponsored posts on Instagram. 
  • At launch, Heartbeat is paying TikTok creators with fewer than 500,000 followers a rate that ranges from $25 to up to $750 per sponsored post depending on their follower count, average engagement rate, and a few other key metrics. 
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While TikTok is a relative newcomer to the social-media world — it only recently gained popularity in the US after merging with in 2018 — some of its users have already attracted millions of followers due to the app’s unique approach to surfacing content on its “For You” landing page. 

Creators who acquire millions of followers can earn thousands of dollars by making sponsored videos for brands. But for those with smaller followings, there’s still an opportunity to cash in.

This week, the creator marketplace platform Heartbeat announced that it’s accepting TikTok creators into its network of hundreds of thousands of lower-follower-count influencers. Heartbeat’s core business is serving as a matchmaker between “nano” influencers and brands that want to hire non-celebrities to promote products on social media.

The company — which has primarily focused on Instagram influencers with around 2,000 followers — has previously run campaigns for brands like Dunkin, Bose, and Kettle Foods. Heartbeat has capitalized on growing interest among marketers for influencers that have just a few thousand fans but can appear more authentic to their followers and typically charge lower rates than their more famous counterparts.

Creators with “any size following” can join Heartbeat, said Brian Freeman, Heartbeat’s CEO. “You don’t have to be a million-plus creator, which is typically what you see if you’re using TikTok right now.”

The company’s decision to add support for TikTok creators comes at a time when the influencer industry and global economy are in disarray due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Popular creators have lost revenue in recent weeks as travel and events-based opportunities are shut down and brands cancel sponsorship deals as they attempt to cut costs during a slumping economy.

And part-time influencers who historically haven’t considered “influencing” a full-time gig appear to be leaning into Heartbeat’s marketplace at a time when millions of workers across the US are being furloughed or losing their jobs. 

“Our sign-up rates since this crisis started, and let’s say that we started seeing this happen at the beginning of March, have doubled, and over weekend periods, tripled, what they normally are,” Freeman said. “We’ve seen a 100% increase in daily survey responses on the platform. And those surveys are typically an indication of people trying to get more specific campaigns, trying to match with brands.”

TikTok operates its own creator marketplace to connect brands with influencers for sponsorship deals, though the company has primarily focused on creators with at least 10,000 followers who have previous experience working with brands. Heartbeat hopes to open up access to a new category of influencer that’s cheaper for marketers to hire and could potentially lead to significant engagement and views on TikTok if their video is picked up by the app’s recommendation algorithm.

“I think TikTok provides something that direct-to-consumer brands really need right now, and that’s the opportunity for a lot of distribution that doesn’t necessarily have a paired increase in cost,” Freeman said. “On YouTube or on Facebook ads if you want to get your message out to two or three million people, you’re going to pay for it. On TikTok, a really amazing creator could do something so cool that it gets caught up into the ‘For You’ page, which gives you 10, 20, or 30 times more distribution than you initially paid that creator for.”

Heartbeat will pay TikTok creators at different rates based on their audience reach and engagement rates

For its launch on TikTok, Heartbeat is paying its creators a flat rate per sponsored video based on a user’s follower count, average engagement rates, and posting frequency.

A “nano” influencer with fewer than 10,000 followers will earn an average of $25 per sponsored post, Freeman said. A “micro” influencer with between 10,000 and 100,000 followers on TikTok will earn roughly $200 per post. For “mid-tier” influencers approaching 500,000 TikTok followers, a typical sponsored post will cost roughly $750. For creators with more than 500,000 followers, rates will be determined on a case-by-case basis, considering factors like the quality of their content and the audience they reach, Freeman said. 

For comparison, a TikTok creator with around half a million followers told Business Insider that they charged a $500 flat rate for a sponsored video with an additional fee earned based on a performance metric like app downloads or views. Creators with millions of followers have reported receiving “low 5-figure” fees to make sponsored content for the app.

Heartbeat plans to introduce performance-based bonuses in the future that will reward a creator when their post ends up on TikTok’s content recommendation page, generating significantly more views than expected. 

“We want to build a very dynamic pay rate system as we get more data onto the network,” Freeman said. “If you’re a creator and you’re driving a lot of sales for brands, we want those brands to reward you for that effort so you can increase your financial output.”

At launch, Heartbeat will display engagement metrics on TikTok sponsored posts in its dashboard for brands that includes “likes,” comments, shares, the content itself, and view count. The company also surveys its influencer clients to collect demographic data that helps it infer more information about a TikTokkers’ potential audience on the app. Heartbeat isn’t integrated directly into TikTok, and has built its own APIs to gather performance data for campaigns. 

“We’re learning something new every day about TikTok and how it works,” Freeman noted. “It feels a lot like it used to feel on Instagram where it was kind of this creator gold rush.”

For more stories on how companies are using influencers to reach consumers on TikTok, check out these other Business Insider Prime posts:

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